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European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 08/01/2016

Brussels, 8 January 2016

Joint Statement of the HR/VP Federica Mogherini and EU Commissioner for Humanitarian aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides on the situation in Syria

"While the talks held in Vienna and New York in recent months are expected to launch the peace process for Syria, the humanitarian situation in the country remains dramatic: civilian populations are under siege in many areas and are being forced to live in appalling conditions with no access to food supplies or aid. The decision of the Syrian regime to allow humanitarian access in Madaya is a first step in the right direction; the European Union welcomes it and expects it will be fully implemented and extended by all parties to all the cities under siege. Humanitarian access must be granted unconditionally so that aid organisations can deliver vital assistance such as food and medicines to people in need, as requested by the UN Security Council. All parties to the conflict must desist from targeting civilian facilities including schools and hospitals. It will be important to implement concrete confidence building measures in support of the upcoming intra-Syrian political talks scheduled to start at the end of January: an end to attacks on civilians, to aerial bombardments and sieges of civilian areas." The statement is available here. (For more information: Catherine Ray – Tel.: +32 229 6992; Alexandre Polack – Tel.: +32 229 90677; Daniel Puglisi – Tel.: +32 229 69140; Nabila Massrali – Tel.: +32 229 6921)


Commission launches new platform for alternative dispute resolution between consumers and online traders

Tomorrow, 9 January, the European Commission opens its new online dispute resolution (ODR) platform to alternative dispute resolution (ADR) bodies. The platformwill allow consumers and traders to settle their online disputes at the click of a mouse, both for domestic and cross-border purchases, without the need to go through lengthy and costly court proceedings. One month after the Commission proposed modern digital contract rules to simplify and promote access to digital content and online sales across the EU (press release), this online platform will also strengthen trust in online purchases and thereby make an important contribution to the EU's Digital Single Market strategy. When consumers and traders lodge a complaint, the dispute resolution bodies will act as a referee between the two parties to resolve the issue. From tomorrow, the platform will be open toalternative dispute resolution bodies to sign up and familiarise themselves with the platform before it is opened for use by consumers and traders on 15 February 2016. Member States had to notify these bodies by 9 January. Online traders will be obliged to provide a link to the ODR Platform on their websites. Věra Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality said: "One in three consumers expe­rienced a problem when buying online in the past year. But a quarter of these consumers did not complain – mainly because they thought the proce­dure was too long or they were unlikely to get a solution. The new online platform will save time and money for consumers and traders. I am confident the platform will be widely used to solve consumer grievances". More information about ADR and ODR is available here. The online platform will be accessible here from 15 February. (For more information: Christian Wigand– Tel.: +32 229 62253; Marie Frenay - Tel.: +32 229 64532)


Mergers: Commission approves acquisition of small package delivery services provider TNT Express by FedEx

Following an in-depth investigation opened in July 2015, the Commission has concluded that the acquisition of small package delivery services provider TNT Express by FedEx will not give rise to competition concerns, because FedEx and TNT are not particularly close competitors and because the merged entity will continue to face sufficient competition from its rivals in all markets concerned. Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, commented: "Many businesses and consumers rely heavily on affordable and reliable small package delivery services, in particular with the growth of e-commerce. Therefore, the Commission has thoroughly assessed the markets affected by this takeover. The conclusion is that European consumers will not be adversely affected by the transaction. We have therefore unconditionally approved the merger. The in-depth investigation into FedEx's takeover of TNT Express was prompted by concerns that the proposed acquisition would substantially lessen competition in certain markets for international deliveries of small packages up to 31.5kg in the European Economic Area (EEA). The Commission concluded that the proposed concentration would not significantly impede effective competition in the EEA or any substantial part of it. More information will be made available on the competition website, in the Commission's public case register under the case number M.7630. The full press release is available online in EN, FR, NL and DE. (For more information: Lucía Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182; Carolina Luna Gordo – Tel.: +32 229 68386)



Vice-President for Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič on Energy Union Tour to Cyprus

Vice-President for Energy Union, Maroš Šefčovič, visits Cyprus from 11 to 12 January 2016 as part of his Energy Union Tour. The visit will include a series of Presidential and Ministerial meetings, meetings with energy companies, local stakeholders and the public. On Monday, 11 January, Vice-President Šefčovič will meet the President of the Republic of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades, the Minister for Energy, Commerce, Industry and Tourism, Yiorgos Lakkotrypis, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ioannis Kasoulides, the President of the House of Representatives, as well as the Chairman and Members of the standing Committee on Energy, Trade, Industry and Tourism. Vice-President Šefčovič will also hold a Citizens' dialogue on Energy Union at the University of Cyprus. In addition, Vice-President Šefčovič will be attending a field visit to Vassilikos Power Station. On Tuesday, 12 January, Vice-President Šefčovič will meet with stakeholders from the energy sector such as energy producers, network operators, academia and think-tanks. Vice-President Šefčovič said: “My Energy Union Tour in Cyprus will provide an excellent opportunity to present and discuss EU funding possibilities and its contribution to the economic recovery of Cyprus and to achieve the Europe 2020 strategy targets for growth and jobs, in particular as regards renewable energy and energy efficiency. Cyprus might be an island, but it doesn’t have to be an energy island”. Follow the Energy Union Tour on the Vice-President's blog, as well as on his Twitter and Facebook accounts. Find more information on the Commission’s website of the Energy Union. (For more information: Anna-Kaisa Itkonen - Tel.: +32 229 56186)


Commissioner Moedas to strengthen research ties with visit to Jerusalem and Ramallah

On Sunday, Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation will start a three day visit to Jerusalem and Ramallah. The trip is part of a broader effort to strengthen science diplomacy in the region and will build on the good cooperation between EU and local research organisations. In Jerusalem (Sunday and Monday), he is expected to meet with the President of the State of Israel, H.E. Mr Reuven Rivlin, and discuss science and research cooperation with M.K. Ofir Akunis, Minister of Science, Technology and Space as well as other government representatives and science community members. He will also visit some of the most successful Israeli research partners in EU research programmes, including the Hebrew university of Jerusalem, the Weizmann Institute of Science, Mobileye Vision Technologies and Jerusalem Venture Partners to discuss best practices and draw on their experience in areas like open innovation and public-private innovation partnerships. His trip will conclude with a visit to Ramallah, where he will meet with Dr Sabri Saidam and Mr Mohammed Abu Zaid, Palestinian Minister and Deputy Minister of Education and Higher Education to discuss a possible research and innovation capacity-building programme for Palestine, followed by a seminar at the National Institute for Education Training. (For more information: Lucia Caudet - Tel.: +32 229 56182; Mirna Talko - Tel.: +32 229 87278)



Calendar 11 – 17 January

The Commissioners' weekly activities


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